Developer: Amanita Design
Price: $2.99 (£1.79)
Description: Charming Point and Click Adventure
Pros: Excellent background visuals and detail, unpredictable, unprecedented sound design.
Cons: Quite short, bland-er character animations, saving and loading system.
Advised Control Method: All (mouse preferred)
From the artistic geniuses that are Amanita Design comes a new beautifully crafted point and click adventure. They set the bar extraordinarily high with their previous release, Machinarium [review]. Samorost 2 doesn’t set its sights on surpassing its predecessor, and instead acts as a shorter and cheaper alternative to those who are not willing to spend the $10 for the larger game. This still makes Samorost 2 a significant and inspiring experience but in terms of content and at times attention to detail, it’s not the ‘Machinarium 2’ you might have been hoping for.
Samorost 2’s setting is totally off the wall from the start with robots, slugs, space gnomes and plum-loving aliens. It really makes each new stage a surprise as there is no clue what you’ll be faced with next.
So the story is that you, the little space gnome, are minding your own business doing things a space gnome does, when out of the blue a pair of aliens arrive to nick some of your fresh fruit. But they take a bit more than expected as your dog tries to scare away the invaders, only to be kidnapped in the process. You need to pursue the aliens and get your pet back.
The game plays almost like Machinarium. I say almost as your character doesn’t move as much around the screen and instead you can activate objects way out of your reach. This takes a bit of getting used to, especially if you are used to the Machinarium set-up. The lack of a simple tutorial/introduction to the controls makes this worse than it should be. But once you do get the hang of the controls, you’re off.
In terms of difficulty, Samorost 2 takes it a notch down at the start and I was able to swoop through the levels with relative ease. The nearer the end of the game you get, the harder the levels become. It does ramp up, but not as steeply as Machinarium did. As well as being a cheaper, shorter game, Samorost 2 also seems more aimed at the casual gamer audience.
From an animation company, you should expect quality when it comes to visuals. The environments are really, really well done. This is sort of helped by the unpredictable approach the developers had towards the game. There’s really nothing logical about Samorost 2, and this causes you to stare in awe and wonder not only at the detail in the environments, but also at the creative world that these guys have developed. But the animation does falter when it comes to moving characters. They animate well, but lack a lot of detail. I know this might be being nit-picky as I am sure a whole lot of work went into them, but contrasted to the beautifully textured backgrounds, you can see a noticeable difference.
Easily the worst thing about Samorost 2 is the loading and saving. Every time you open the game from your desktop, you start back from the beginning. Each level has its own code which you must remember (or write down) to start where you left off. I don’t see the point of this as you will be constantly scrambling for bits of papers with level codes on them. This may be because of the length of the game – only 7 levels – but even then it seems more of a hassle than a help.
No doubt about it, Samorost 2 is a beautiful and thought-provoking experience. While it may not match the prowess of Machinarium, it still lives up to its legacy as a scaled down, more affordable version.